Post by Curtis, Information Services staff
In our current state of an international pandemic, the concern over media literacy in the digital world has never been greater. With the withdrawal from public life and the focus on our various screens, we’ve looked to media to help us through these trying times. We made huge shifts in our lives that have resulted in long-lasting changes to how we interact with the online world. Many of us were forced to move our jobs online. Others had to find new work in the online realm. And, a number of other people simply lost out on their livelihood altogether. Schooling became reliant on virtual learning to keep up with the educational needs of a disenfranchised youth. And to the massive benefit of companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook, people flocked to online media as the main escape in this uncertain and frightening world. If anyone thought that art and culture was not important before all this, they’ve been proven wrong now; especially during a lockdown.
Media was, in many ways, a saving grace to those lucky enough to be stuck indoors. News media, in particular, is everywhere. Information in this time is abundant; cultural consumption in a wide array of mediums is at our fingertips. I remember, distinctly, having a conversation with my grandmother, a woman who survived the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, who remembers how friends of hers were quarantined during the polio outbreak. She provided me perspective in the early and nervous days of lockdown. She reminded me that there was still food and that you can, in fact, live without toilet paper, but what stuck out was her reminder that you can easily take solace in the fact that television and the internet provide you with an unending array of entertainment and information.
And I felt comforted for a while in that knowledge, but growing up as a millennial, I remember computer classes in elementary school and the warnings my generation received growing up with the advent of this massive technological revolution: “Be careful what you do online.” This blanket warning came from the critical eye my parents and older generations had, at the time, with this new medium. Websites, forums, online dating, online shopping, news, information, all of it was to be looked at very critically, with a large amount of skepticism. Now? It seems impossible to live without everything we’re provided online, and it feels as though we’ve forgotten or been forced to move on from those initial concerns.
This week was Media Literacy Week in Canada and for librarians and staff here at KPL, we have a vested interest in ensuring that the public has reliable information resources at their disposal. Rather than being an easy task, with the wide availability of resources on the internet, it has proven to be an overwhelming job to discern between information that is reliable and that which is not. There’s just so much out there! This has had major effects on society when people need to navigate through troves of information during a pandemic. More and more, we receive phone calls and online messages asking us about what measures the government is taking, whether local and national news is accurate, where they source their information, and whether certain vaccines are safe. It has been a difficult time, to say the least, as all of us here at KPL work hard to make sure that the public is kept up-to-date as information changes daily.
Ultimately, there are many things to consider when consulting media for information and here are some resources to help you understand what to look for as you navigate a landscape of potentially dubious knowledge.
- Learning About Media Literacy | Martha E.H. Rustad
- Information Literacy and Fake News | Diane Dakers
- Filter Bubbles and You | Carol Hand
- A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age | Daniel J. Levitin
- How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor | Thomas C. Foster
- Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? | Charles Seife
- Web of Deceit: Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media | edited by Anne P. Mintz
- Using the Internet | Valerie Bodden
- UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy Yearbook
- The Guardian’s “Critical literacy in a digital world” article
- Our blog post about Media Literacy Week from 2020
- Visual Capitalist’s How to Spot Fake News graphic (see below)
Have questions? Want more recommendations?